Categories: Linguistics

Grammar Translation Method | Characteristics, Objectives and Techniques

Grammar Translation Method

Grammar Translation Method is a foreign language teaching method that originated in the late 19th and early 20th century. This method is usually taught the classical or dead language for example; Latin and Greek. The main purpose of this method is to enrich their literature and language reading proficiency as well. And for this reason, this method is also called the Classical Method. However, in the 19th century, this Classical method is recognised as the Grammar Translation Method.

Characteristics of the Grammar Translation Method

Let us know the major characteristics of the Grammar Translation Method:

  • The main purpose of the Grammar Translation Method is to learn a language in order to read its literature to benefit from mental discipline and intellectual improvement.
  • As far as skills are concerned reading and writing skills are more focused than listening and speaking.
  • GTM takes vocabulary from reading texts the teachers teach through translation, memorisation and dictionary study.
  • It chooses the sentences as the basic part of teaching and language practice as well.
  • It focuses on the accuracy of grammar and translation.
  • In GTM, teachers teach the grammar rules then gives examples.
  • Teachers teach in the mother tongue with little active use of the targeted language.
  • Teachers and learners maintain traditional roles of knowledge transmitter and knowledge receiver.


As we mentioned before that the main objectives of the Grammar Translation Method are to enrich the Latin and Greek literature in order to get the benefit of the mental discipline and intellectual abilities which is the result from the foreign language study. Let us see the main objectives of the Grammar Translation Method in the below sentences:

  • Students are able to read the literature which is written in the targeted language.
  • They are able to translate from and into the targeted language.
  • They are able to enhance their skills in reading and writing.

Techniques of GTM

Larsen-Freeman (2000) discusses the following techniques of the Grammar Translation Method:

  • In GTM students translate literary extracts from the target language into their mother tongue.
  • The students read comprehensive texts and try to find information, make inferences and relate to personal experiences.
  • They find synonyms and antonyms for words that occur in the text.
  • The learners identify cognate by learning spelling and sound patterns between mother language and targeted language.
  • They try to understand the grammar structure first and later apply them to examples.
  • In GTM students memorize bilingual vocabularies, grammar rules and grammatical paradigms.
  • Learners usually used to memorize vocabulary to apply them in sentences.
  • They write paragraphs, essays or summaries on a particular topic using targeted language.


Let us know the major advantages of GTM:

  • The teachers need a few specialized skills on particular topics.
  • Students get the opportunity to achieve maximum accuracy on targeted language.
  • The learners have to read the classic literature which develops their mental and intellectual ability.
  • Literature also helps to enrich multiple potentials of the learners.
  • The leaners have to memorize a lot of vocabularies which help them to make different kinds of sentences.
  • GTM also helps students to improve the reading and writing proficiency of the targeted language.


Let us know the major disadvantages of GTM:

  • The students get less opportunity to engage in several segments, unlike Communicative Language Teaching.
  • Grammar Translation Method mainly a teacher-centred method that’s why learners get less opportunity to interact with the teachers.
  • The students are not offered to produce their own sentences in the classroom.
  • They get less opportunity to develop their speaking and listening skills.
  • Oral interaction is avoided in GTM.
  • In GTM accuracy is more emphasized then fluency.
  • The leaners can develop their reading and writing skills but fail to communicate with the real world.

Although the Grammar Translation Method has some limitation but the learners get a lot of benefits to develop their skills in their targeted language. The instractors also get the opportunity to teach a huge number of students in the classroom and they don’t need to give more efforts to take the class. Further, it helps the students to develop their mental and intellectual abilities.

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